Sleep Apnea Medications

Reviewed on 7/5/2022

What are the different types of sleep apnea medications?

Doctors generally do not recommend medications as the primary treatment for sleep apnea. However, some drugs can help patients manage symptoms of sleep apnea including daytime sleepiness, or difficulty sleeping.

Medications for wakefulness-promoting medications to help patients with daytime sleepiness include

Other medications to treat sleep apnea aid in sleep, including

Over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids should be used only on the advice of a physician if you have sleep apnea. These include

In some cases, OTC nasal decongestants such as

What are common side effects of sleep apnea medications?

Side effects of sleep apnea medicines vary depending on the type of medication. Wakefulness-promoting medications can cause

  • headache,
  • upper respiratory tract infection,
  • nausea,
  • nervousness,
  • anxiety, and
  • insomnia.

Benzodiazepines, barbiturates, hypnotics, and sedatives have similar side effects including drowsiness and dizziness. Other side effects may include

  • stomach upset,
  • headache,
  • weakness,
  • grogginess,
  • dreaming, and
  • mood or behavior changes.

Side effects of nasal decongestants include

  • nervousness,
  • restlessness, or
  • difficulty sleeping.

Where can people find more information about the side effects of OTC and prescription sleep apnea drugs?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Always consult your doctor if you are having unexplained symptoms or questions related to your medications. For more information about the side effects of sleep apnea medications, search for the drug and click on the drug's "Side Effects Center" on the top left side of the page.

FDA Prescribing Information.

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